$500 prize money at the ACM SIGAI Student Essay Contest on the Responsible Use of AI Technologies! Apply now!

  1. Do you have an opinion on the responsible use of AI technologies?
  2. Do you want to win one of several $500 cash prizes?
  3. Do you want to talk one-on-one (via skype) to one of the following AI researchers:
  • Murray Campbell (Senior Manager, IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center)
  • Eric Horvitz (Managing Director, Microsoft Research)
  • Peter Norvig (Director of Research, Google)
  • Stuart Russell (Professor, University of California at Berkeley) or
  • Michael Wooldridge (Head of the CS Department, University of Oxford)?

Read on!

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Who Owns Your Device?

We live in an amazing era of technology. The Internet has opened doors that have been dreamed of for years. By adding computing technology to everyday devices, like televisions, thermostats, appliances, and others, we’ve been able to automate many aspects of our daily life. The ideal experience might look something like this 50s ‘futurist’ promotional film entitled “Design For Dreaming”.

The idea of technology being embedded in every object around you is called The Internet of Things, and is one of the fastest growing areas of emerging technology. These days, manufacturers are adding Internet connection to all types of devices around you. One of the most famous examples is the Nest Thermostat [LINK]. This thermostat allows the user to adjust the temperature throughout the day, and eventually learns the user’s patterns, thereafter adjusting the temperature without intervention.

But there’s a dark side to this kind of technology, one that is becoming more visible as the technology goes through growing pains. In this article, we will discuss some of the major issues with putting a computer in every device you own (or don’t really own, as the case may be). We focus on the domestic space, rather than the industrial space, which has its own challenges and benefits. We discuss both the value and problems with adding an internet connection to a device that previously never needed an internet connection, including the reliance on a company to provide updates, security and privacy concerns, and finally judging the value that these additions provide.

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How 1 Million App Calls can Tell you a Bit About Malware – Part 1

Recently, I collaborated with a number of researchers from the Software Systems Laboratory of Columbia University, on a study regarding POSIX (Portable Operating System Interface) abstractions. In a nutshell, we measured how and to what extent traditional POSIX abstractions are being used in modern operating systems, and whether new abstractions are taking form, dethroning traditional ones. The results of this study were presented at the 11th European Conference on Computer Systems (EuroSys ’16).

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How to Automatically Scan Multiple Files with Multiple Antiviruses

Recently, I’ve been working on a project where I needed to scan a large number of .apk files for potential malware or malicious intent. Given the fact that antiviruses produce many false positives, it would be better for me to scan the files by using more than one antivirus. During a discussion with a colleague, he mentioned the VirusTotal service. VirusTotal is a free service in which a web user can scan files and URLs to see if they are related to any kind of malicious behavior (viruses, worms, Trojans, etc.). To do so, it uses 55 different antiviruses and 61 scan engines. Using it is pretty straightforward: users upload a file and when the engines finish their analysis the results are displayed. Continue reading

Measuring the Occurrence of Security Bugs through Software Evolution – Part 2

Given the fact that security bugs are critical, one of the basic pursuits in every new software release should be to mitigate such bugs. In essence, security bugs should decrease as a project evolves. In a previous post I described how I measured the occurrence of security bugs through time and observed that security bugs actually increase as projects evolve. However, the corresponding experiment involved only four projects.
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